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Finding 'Folk Clubs'

Richard Bridge 01 Jan 01 - 04:33 PM
Suffet 01 Jan 01 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Kernow Jon 01 Jan 01 - 05:46 PM
bill\sables 01 Jan 01 - 05:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jan 01 - 07:13 PM
Wotcha 02 Jan 01 - 02:04 AM
GUEST,Ashoran 02 Jan 01 - 05:53 AM
GUEST,Becky 02 Jan 01 - 03:26 PM
Jon Freeman 02 Jan 01 - 04:50 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Jan 01 - 05:38 PM
Chris Flint 03 Jan 01 - 01:18 PM
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Subject: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 04:33 PM

I have half a feeling that there may have been a thread about this, or at least touching the fringes of it. If so, I can't find it, so apologies as necessary. There are two strands to the question. One is about how to find live "folk music", and the other is about what sorts of "folk music" gathering there are. In this posting "folk music" includes folk song and contemporary acoustic song and music.

But first to set the scene. Here is the UK there are three principal sorts of live folk music –

(1) the "concert" (self explanatory – and the audience is NOT expected to join in unless specifically urged to do so);

(2) the "pub gig" where the landlord (usually) of a pub has booked a band to play in the bar and pays them to do so, and joining in on choruses (or choroi, for classicists and prescriptive grammarians- BG) and other vocal lines will be fairly normal but no-one else will be expected to play an instrument or themselves perform, and

(3) the "folk club" or "singers' club" or "singaround" or "open mic club" (all subtly different from each other) where not only will joining in (including on instruments unless a paid guest is performing) be normal but also those attending will be encouraged themselves to sing, play, declaim, recite, narrate, or otherwise perform. "Sessions" are usually rather more different in that one is expected to play, not sing, and you will need to be very pushy to start a tune, for no-one will invite you to do so. Indeed unless you have a concertina melodeon or banjo no-one will hear you try to start a tune.

All of these are usually fairly easy to find from the local library or the local equivalent of "What's On Folks?" or "Folk in Kent" – or even the internet and once you've found one or two, clues to the rest follow.

My trouble and strife ("wife", in cockney rhyming slang) went to Australia to visit her son and his significant other and to sightsee etc. She wanted to find a "folk club" (we find that no matter how folked out you are, as soon as you can't get a good folking, folk starvation sets in after about 4 days) in Sydney. Nothing could she find, apart from one pub that had a paid set of Irish musicians, and joining in or doing a spot of one's own was obviously not expected.

And so, the questions are these.

Outside England, what "folk music" is there normally to be found, and how does one find it?

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Suffet
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 05:28 PM

In the USA and Canada one of the best ways to find the folk music scene is to contact the local folk music society. There are such societies in many North American cities, and each can direct you to concerts, pub gigs, open sessions, radio and TV programs, festivals, etc. in its region. Most often these societies sponsor events of their own, but they will guide you to events sponsored by others.

The Folk Music Society of New York, also called the New York Pinewoods Folk Music Club, is just one example. If you check out its website, you will find many New York City metro area events, but you will also find links to similar societies in other cities, including some links to the UK.

The web address for the New York Pinewoods Folk Music Club is:

--- Steve

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: GUEST,Kernow Jon
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 05:46 PM

If you are ever in my part of Cornwall get in touch.
I will tell you of two sessions in two different pubs in which you will definately be asked to start a tune and or song if you want to. We make a point of asking often during the sessions, after all singers are not so easy to spot as the instrument player.

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: bill\sables
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 05:47 PM

One of the best ways to find folk music in a foreign country is to ask on this forum. I'm sure if a mudcatter did not live in the area you were interested in he or she would surely know someone who did.

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jan 01 - 07:13 PM

I haven't chased around in the Internet, but I'm sure if you do, you'll pretty soon find some link with some listings or contacts. I know there's a hell of a lot of good music out in Australia.

And if you check in the Mudcat Resources under Quick Links, and try the "Locator" option, you'll likely find Mudcatters you could send Personal Messages to, to pick their brains.

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Wotcha
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 02:04 AM

Depends where you are, but when I arrived in the Middle East, I joined the Hash House Harriers (an unusual running club and incredible networking organization found overseas but also existent in the States and UK)and immediately found folkies who ran sings in their homes, since public gatherings were generally frowned upon.
Open Mics are popular in Chicago, and I've found you have to ask around to find the best places to sing. I've recently discovered the "local" folklore society which is based in the Far West suburbs -- again the result of word of mouth. The web sites for many societies should be checked for accuracy and when last updated.
Of course, posting a Mudcat thread will get you around handsomely as I discovered in Cornwall last year (well the year before now).

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: GUEST,Ashoran
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 05:53 AM

There is a great website run in Eastern Australia called Folk Australia It will give your trouble and strife a great deal of help in locating the folk scene in Australia, Sydney itself is not the best for clubs they are generally stronger in the "burbs" Cheers

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: GUEST,Becky
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 03:26 PM


In the U.S. there seems to be less variety in the "Folk Club" vein than there are in the U.K. (this only from what I know via the Net...). Being an organizer-type (with Tucson Friends of Traditional Music), and a singer in a jam/session-only town, I'm curious about the other possibilities, with hope of making something happen that fits me and others who don't have a spot yet.

So, could you expand on the subtle differences between "folk club" or "singers' club" or "singaround" or "open mic club"?


Becky Nankivell Tucson, Arizona

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 04:50 PM

I agree with Bill Sables but if I had been looking at Sydney, I would have sent Alison a PM as I am sure she would help.


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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Jan 01 - 05:38 PM

all of these things tend to occur on licensed premises (in bars) but often in a back room with no bar there (you go to the bar in the other room to get drink) to limit noise. there is usually an entry fee (or a hat is passed round) and often a raffle to aid funds. Sometimes teh landlord charges for the room, but I have always refused to organise a club at any place the landlord wanted me to pay him to give him extra customers.

an "open mic" club implies a mic - ergo it is less acoustic and tends towards contemporary and blues rather than traditional, and of course it implies a featured performer (or set of performers) at any given time. It may also imply a more forgiving attitude towards conversation and crisp packets.

a "singaround" implies that the performers are not called to the front to perform, but perform where they are and go in rotation, usually one song or set of tunes at a time. singarounds do not usually exclude instrumentalists, but as a result of the geography tend to excude electricity.

a singers' club usually does not have paid guest artists, but performers will be called to the front to perform. THey may do one song, or a batch of three. Other numbers are not usual. a set of three short tunes is treated sa equal to one song.

a folk club will usually have paid guests, sometimes all the time, mor e usually about one week in four, other nights being singers' nights

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Subject: RE: Finding 'Folk Clubs'
From: Chris Flint
Date: 03 Jan 01 - 01:18 PM

Hi Being a folk club organiser (SWAN FOLK The Swan in the Rushes Loughborough Leics. England-plug over)I see the problem from another side, namely-how do we advertise our presence. If people are still asking where to get their fill of folk music,despite having been in existence in three venues within a few miles for the past 10 years and having advertised on local radio, gig lists on TV, posters in the pubs, the pubs own features sheets, posters in libraries, mentions in local folk club info sheets and periodic mail shots Oh! I forgot,in the local newspapers gig list and folk column when they can be bothered to do one (sorry another hobby horse)we still get people saying Oh! I didn't know you were here!! I do find it frustrating having people looking for folk music and not being able to find it especially when we are willing and able to fulfill some of the needs -if only they could find us. Anyway good hunting folks and if you are in Loughborough check our running nights -alt Sundays do give me a call to check when (second plug over)01664 569224

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